Someone wise once said that life is just one crushing disappointment after another, and then you die. Or was it someone depressed? I can’t remember. But one thing is for sure: once every couple of years, you’re going to wake up on Christmas morning and find that instead of a bar of Swiss Chocolate or another finger-nail clipper, there’s a lump of coal in your stocking. Our work as spiritual practitioners is to squeeze that lump of coal in your hands until it becomes sweet sweet lemonade.
After five years as a monk, I still have not developed any supernatural powers. What’s even worse, no one has tried to teach me any. I’ve waited patiently for a shadowy figure to approach me in the forest. I’ve stared intently at the elder brothers mentally repeating, “I’m ready.” And when it became clear that no one was interested in what I had to think, I started verbally dropping hints. For instance if I’m in a conflict with someone I might say, “How was I supposed to know? I’m not a mind reader! But I’d like to be…”
But all to no avail. I thought about writing a formal request to the community, but I figure there’s a reason that all this superhuman stuff is veiled in darkness. So in an act of desperation, I’ve started my own personal training program. It’s still in the early stages, and there’s nothing supernatural about it. It’s a combination of common sense tips and inspiration from that book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I haven’t read it, but I feel like I get the gist of it just from the title. After a few intense weeks of training, and my first field test on an international flight yesterday, I can say definitively that my labors have born fruit.
So here are a few tips from my upcoming book, How to Win Seats and Eat Apple Crumble. From the section, On the Airplane:
- Be vigilant in gathering information on your surroundings. What airline are you flying? What section of the plane will you be sitting in? Are you in an exit row? These seemingly insignificant details will be vital in your rise to the top of the social pyramid on the flight. Between Charles de Gaulle and Sea-Tac International airport, you’re only going to have eleven hours to make your mark. Any scrap of information could prove to be essential.
- Ingratiate yourself to the cabin crew. They will be the aristocracy in the New World Order you are establishing. Use flattery. This is where the information you gathered earlier will come in handy. Bear in mind that physical touch dramatically increases the impact of this technique. Press the Request Assistance button to call the flight attendant. Clasp his or her right hand between both of yours. Maintain eye contact, and draw upon your knowledge of the situation to invoke an immediate sense of ease and trust in this person. Something like, “You know, I’m never so happy in this life as I am when I fly Delta.” Do not remain seated for this. You should be above the eye level of the attendant. Try standing on your seat.
- Names hold a mysterious power over people. You can verify this yourself by invoking the name of someone you know. If you say the name loud enough, the person to whom it belongs will be powerless to resist your influence. They will be compelled, as if by some supernatural force, to turn towards you and say, “What?”. The louder you say the name, the more effective this technique. You can use this in combination with a simple request to quickly take the upper hand in any situation. Please note that you don’t need to shout the whole thing. Just raising the volume of your voice when you say the name will suffice: “Excuse me, could you put your tray table up, BARBARA?”
Tips four through 67 are not included in this sample edition of How to Win Seats and Eat Apple Crumble. So give me your hands, fellow computer user INSERT YOUR NAME HERE, because we’re all in this together. At least until you buy a copy of my book.
Love and apple crumble,